New Delhi: India's apex agency for disaster management is preparing "mandatory" guidelines to cover fire and other emergency hazards in hospitals and a core group would be formed next week to finalise the rules, an official said on Saturday.
The decision has been taken after a major fire struck a super speciality medical centre in Kolkata killing over 90 people last week. The hospital is accused of having no fire safety measures in place.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had in the past issued guidelines for medical preparedness and mass casualty management, "but it largely dealt with preparedness of hospitals to deal with disasters outside the hospital", an NDMA spokesperson told.
The spokesperson said a meeting of NDMA officials was held Friday evening and after a brain-storming session with different officers and experts, it was decided to prepare guidelines for hospital safety and preparedness to deal with on-site emergencies.
The decision was taken in the wake of the recent fire at AMRI Hospital at Kolkata, the official said.
"We have now to address this major issue of emergencies inside the hospitals both in the government and private sectors in the country," NDMA vice chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy said at the meeting.
The meeting was convened to review the present status of hospital safety and understand the role and responsibilities of various agencies.
Members and officers of the NDMA, representatives from World Health Organisation (WHO), UN agencies, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), health ministry, the Armed Forces Medical Services, corporate hospitals, Delhi Fire Service, experts from IITs, IIITs and NGOs were present at the meeting.
NDMA member Muzaffar Ahmed was tasked with constituting the core group of experts and preparing the guidelines for hospital safety and preparedness after wide consultation with all stakeholders.
"The core group, besides reviewing the present status, will identify gaps and look at international best practices. It will also look at the existing codes and other legal provisions and recommend steps for better monitoring and supervision of all safety measures," the spokesperson said.
NDMA, constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and headed by the prime minister, has been tasked with spearheading and implementing a holistic and integrated approach to disaster management in the country.